By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Sophia Dauterman was hoping to make a big splash this season for the Whiteford Bobcat softball team before heading to the east coast and college softball.
The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted those plans, but not derailed them.
Dauterman has committed to playing softball for Wilmington University in Wilmington, Delaware, next year.
“The thing I am going to miss is my teammates this season,” she said. “I really wanted to play with them this year and get to know them better and let them know that I have their backs. This was going to be a pretty meaningful season for me.”
Dauterman transferred to Whiteford from Bedford and played for the Bobcats last season. She appeared in 28 games for the Bobcats, collecting 41 hits and 14 RBIs while batting .471. Whiteford tied for the Tri-County Conference championship along the way.
This year, the Bobcats figured to lean heavily on Dauterman, the 5-foot-3 catcher.
“She’s our vocal leader,” first year Whiteford head coach Matt VanBrandt said. “She’s one of the best hitters and hardest workers on the team. Sophia was also a great catching instructor for some of our youth players.”
Dauterman doesn’t play a winter sport at Whiteford. Instead, she was focused on softball, working out during four-player workouts and preparing for her senior season on her own.
As the spring draws on with more restrictions when it comes to gathering it is all the more likely that her summer travel season will also be canceled.
“We were going to be playing in a lot of different tournaments this year,” she said of the summer season.
The next time she takes the field might be next spring when she suits up for Wilmington College in Delaware.
Dauterman committed to Wilmington last year. It’s about a nine-hour drive from Ottawa Lake. She put together a video of her skills and sent it to various colleges. The Wilmington coaches invited her to come to Delaware for a camp.
“I didn’t think I played that well,” she said. “I thought I blew my chance. The coach invited me in to talk afterward and they offered me.”
Dauterman didn’t accept the offer immediately but knew that’s where she wanted to go.
“Deep in my heart, I knew it was the right fit,” she said.
She ended up talking to the coach and said he was considering committing to Wilmington but had one stipulation – she wanted to wear No. 34. Once that was affirmed, she made her commitment. She plans to major in psychology and minor in criminology. She wants to own her own business someday.
Wilmington went 39-15 last season, but the Wildcats got off to an 0-10 start this year when the season was canceled for the NCAA Division II school. Dauterman said she hopes to compete for the starting spot next year even though the Wildcats have a senior playing this year that will get another year of eligibility due to the NCAA’s waiver granting another year of eligibility for those missing this season due to the Covid-19.
“I am looking at it as a good opportunity for me,” she said. “I can go there and learn a lot more from someone who has played in that position. I know I’m going to have a lot to learn. It will help push me to get better. I know it will be a good fit.”